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Women Funding Women’s Education
The Sunflower Initiative logo
Women Funding Women’s Education

2018/12 News from The Sunflower Initiative

December 2018
It’s Not Too Late

If you have not already done so, it’s not too late to make a tax-deductible contribution to The Sunflower Initiative. Your support is vital for our continuing scholarships for young women attending women’s colleges.

You may contribute by sending a check to The Sunflower Initiative, P.O. Box 378, Bedford, VA 24523 or by going to our website  and making a contribution online.

Thank you so much for your support! We send our best wishes for the holiday season to each of you.

Our Outstanding 2018 Applicants
by Meg McKean for the Scholarship Committee:
Carolyn Bell, Meg McKean, and Jane Herb Rinden

Each year the scholarship committee reports on the marvels we found in the scholarship winner, the finalists for the year, and in the applicants as a whole, and each year we encounter new achievements and new combinations of interests. We find an extraordinary variety of intellectual interests and charitable activities: combinations of dance and science, athletics and mathematics, harp and Chinese language, even poetry, puppets, and Latin. Some play multiple music instruments: flute and alto saxophone while excelling in music theory, or piano and cello.
Applicants include inventors and pathbreakers: one worked in coding for the geophysics group at Los Alamos National Laboratory, a bioinformatics student learned 3D modeling in order to build a smart phone application for patients with glaucoma, another devised computer programs to transform and generate safe recipes for people with allergies. A lacrosse player studied Japanese, wrote a children’s book, and started a STEM group for underprivileged kids in her city. A dancer teaches STEM literacy to elementary students, promotes urban agriculture in the inner-city, and plans customized birthday parties for homeless children.
We see already creative teachers. One devised her own methods, ignoring the standard textbooks, for teaching disadvantaged high school students not just to survive the SAT but also to enjoy the material. Another who works as a teaching assistant for her math teachers has raised test scores 22% by devising hands-on outdoor exercises in “sidewalk geometry.” Another who teaches computer literacy to third-grade girls finds that working an all-girl “teams” builds confidence and inspires these students to meet challenges and demand more.
Our applicants perform at the tops of their high school cohorts but they are not economically privileged. A surprising number of applicants are children of single mothers, and many have had to work during high school to contribute to family income. We have an increasingly diverse pool with large numbers of minority students performing at the top of their high school classes, whether in literature, history, computer science, or astrophysics.
One applicant wrote that what sets the approach of women’s colleges to higher education apart – “and what attracts me to them—is an overarching moral responsibility to make space for the next generation of women within their chosen fields.”
We are inspired by additional – and wonderful — perspectives on why our applicants want to attend women’s colleges. Here are some of their reasons, in their own words:
  • to study science without having to endure the message that women should not do science;
  • to feel comfortable taking chances and to own my own successes and blunders;
  • to be free of the worry that I might be deemed bossy for speaking my mind in a seminar;
  • to embrace or reject concepts of femininity without feeling as if I were succumbing to stereotypes;
  • to shake off the hesitation that comes from having men in my classroom;
  •  to enable me to study gender rather than deal with it as a daily problem;
  •  to obtain the best possible preparation for pursuit of a field dominated by men;
  •  to find camaraderie and the courage to be adventurous;
  • to be fearless.
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